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More Than 1,000 Connecticut Residents Benefit from the Connecticut United Ways COVID-19 Response Fund

People Who Lost Jobs, Wages Are Downloading $200 Payments to Their Mobile Wallets

ROCKY HILL, Conn. (May 13, 2020) — ¬The Connecticut United Ways COVID-19 Response Fund has announced that more than 1,000 households across the state have now benefited from the Fund. The Fund is a unique joint effort launched by all 15 United Ways in Connecticut to help those who lost jobs, wages, or childcare, or who were otherwise financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Partnering with social service agencies across Connecticut, the Fund has identified those most in need of immediate monetary assistance. Through a system developed with EML Payment Limited (“EML”), beneficiaries are downloading $200 to their mobile wallets and are using the money to pay for basic household necessities like groceries and utilities.

A beneficiary from Groton shares her gratitude for the assistance: “Both myself and my husband are in the hospitality industry. I’m a Server and he’s a Master Chef in our local restaurants. We are currently out of work due to COVID-19. We learned about the United Ways Fund from Heidi McSwain at Groton Human Services. She contacted us immediately and shared much needed help. We will use this money to buy what our family really needs right now. Thank you!”

In Stamford, a resident stated, “It means so much not to have to worry about how I will pay the electric bill for a few months.”

Most people who applied to the fund identified food (76%) and paying for utilities (75%) as their most immediate needs, although housing (56%) and childcare (9%) were also identified as financial challenges. Data collected from their actual purchases (see table below) shows spending patterns reflect those identified needs.

The 15 United Ways across the state of Connecticut joined together within days of realizing the economic ripple effects of the pandemic. They were able to create this innovative system because of the strong relationships they had with each other, the social service providers in their communities, and funders who had dollars they could commit immediately.

“We were getting funds to people within two weeks of when this crisis began,” said Kim Morgan, Chief Executive Officer of United Way of Western Connecticut. “Our strong United Way partnerships with both social service agencies and funders meant we could stand this up quickly and get help to people just when they needed it most.”

The more funds that are raised, the more people that can be served. The Connecticut United Ways are not charging administrative fees for the Fund.

To date, the Fund has raised and is distributing nearly $700,000. Donors have included residents, state employees, and corporate partners and foundations, including: Aetna Foundation, Avangrid Foundation (parent company of United Illuminating, Southern Connecticut Gas, and Connecticut Natural Gas), Citizens Bank, The Connecticut Health Foundation, Connecticut State Employees Campaign, Eversource, Ion Bank, Liberty Bank, Medtronic Foundation, Newtown Savings Bank, Pitney Bowes, Timken Foundation, Travelers, Union Savings Bank, J. Walton Bissell Foundation, Webster Bank, and Wells Fargo.

Most beneficiaries of the fund are individuals and families that United Way calls ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). These are our hard-working neighbors who live paycheck to paycheck and have no savings to fall back on in an emergency like this. Many of them provide crucial services in our community—such as caring for our children and elderly parents. With no financial cushion, they are particularly vulnerable to the rapidly changing scenario our country now faces. United Way expects that the number of individuals and families in the state that fall into the ALICE income threshold will grow as the crisis continues.

The statewide Fund is now closed for donations, and those wanting to help are encouraged to give to similar funds to their local United Way.


ADDITIONAL STORIES FROM INDIVIDUALS IN SOUTHEASTERN CONNECTICUT WHO RECEIVED ASSISTANCE

Jerad and Mary have been both affected by COVID 19. Jerad is a performer who has had all of his concerts cancelled and then within a week his wife lost her job.  They have a small child and now are reaching out every way they can to find assistance as they are concerned, they will not be able to maintain their bills.  They fear that once things begin to open, any back balances they have will suddenly become due. Jerad was very thankful and said that the funds they received through this program will help them immensely.

Linda was working in a store in Mystic when suddenly she found herself laid off.  She was struggling to navigate unemployment, to file for SNAP benefits, and just overall concerned on how she is going to manage without work. She said that the funds will help her with some of the things that she needs and was very grateful for the help.

Jane is a single mother of two children who was working two jobs to make ends meet.  Due to COVID 19 she found herself out of not just one job but both jobs.  As she was living paycheck to paycheck as it was, this time has been difficult for her. She was very grateful for the help.

A mother from Groton is on furlough as the company she works for is closed. Mom and her toddler have access to a variety of healthy food and staples, along with diapers and personal care items.  These supports allow her to put unemployment money towards rent and utilities. When she returns to work she will have her regular income, which will not cover back bills. Mom said " this help with food and diapers means my back bills won't be as high and maybe I will be catch up."

Jennifer is a single mom of four in New London, with her youngest being only two months. She has recently become homeless and her family was placed in a local hotel. Jennifer reached out for support to one of the New London Public Schools where her two oldest children attend. She was connected to the Family Resource Center that is manged and operated by Child and Family Agency. Thankfully due to our partnership with United Way and the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Bank, we were able to supply her family with food, diapers and some basic needs for the baby. Jennifer and her family are beyond grateful for what we have been able to provide. Without our joint efforts and support she was uncertain how to feed and care for her family.

A Norwich woman who was working full time and was laid off, pending unemployment and her spouse had not been working for some time. The spouse was recently hired for a full time job but could not start due to COVID-19, and the job was put on hold.  They have five kids. The money was to be used for food.

Before COVID-19, a Norwich woman was working full time for Vesta Management making about $33,000/ year. Unfortunately she had to leave work to care for her brother who got sick from COVID-19. Her brother didn't make it. Jess stated how grateful she is for having receive this funding because anything at this point can help her and her family. She intends to use the funds for gas, food, and hygiene supplies.

The Davis Family joined the Madonna Place Great Beginnings home visiting program a year ago when their youngest was born. The Davis Family’s life changed rapidly since the beginning of the Covid-19 Outbreak.

The Davis’ are family of five.  The parents are in their mid-thirties with two teenage children and a one year old.  They live in a very modest apartment in Norwich. Over the years, they have worked out a system to provide for their family on a very limited income.  One of the things that impressed the home visitor was, although they don’t have many material possessions, they are a close-knit family with a lot of love to share.  They don’t have access to transportation and rely on public transportation to get to appointments or to the store. It is not uncommon for dad to walk to the store or an appointment if they don’t have the money for the bus. On top of this, both parents deal with anxiety daily and mom must manage a chronic health condition.  

A family from Norwich was put on the emergency food plan and as soon as the stay at home order came about, a supply of diapers and wipes were dropped off at the home. Diapers and food have been provided on a regular weekly basis for this family. The home visitor continues to do virtual home visits and phone calls to focus on child development and parent support. The mother of the family said, “Receiving food and diapers has been immensely helpful during the pandemic, not only financially, but also in saving us from having to go out in public. Everyone is struggling financially during these times and receiving food and diapers, two of our biggest needs, has been a true blessing! And at a time where everyone is taking every measure to avoid going out, having our two most needed items brought to us, is a life saver. It alleviates the fear of coming into contact with and bringing home a potentially fatal virus to our children.  We are incredibly grateful for the tremendous amount of help we have received!”  She also went on to say “that some of the foods we’ve received are foods that we never would have been able to afford to buy on our budget, so even that has been a blessing to us.  It’s showing us how others care. We thought we were going to get the bottom of the barrel because we are poor.”